Jan. 12, 1888 started out as a fairly warm day on the prairie.
After several days of sub-zero temperatures, the snow had stopped and the mercury rose to just below freezing. Residents shed their heavy winter clothes and went to school and work on a chilly day.
Within a few hours, however, an arctic cold front swept through, plunging temperatures to 20 below in some places, bringing with it blinding snow that made it impossible to see more than a few inches.
Today, it’s known as the "Schoolchildren’s Blizzard," and it was responsible for the deaths of 235 people across the Great Plains.
Exactly 130 years later, the stories of those who lived through the blizzard are set to come to life in “Snowcatcher,” which will be performed for one night only at Community Players in Beatrice this Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Co-commissioned by the Lincoln Arts Council and the Midwest Theatre of Scottsbluff, “Snowcatcher” was produced by BLIXT of Lincoln and is both written and performed by Becky Boesen. Boesen plays multiple characters in the show, including 6-year-old Hattie, who is caught in the middle of the blizzard near her Nebraska schoolhouse.
The performance of "Snowcatcher" is a part of Community Player’s one-night-only events, which kicked off last fall with acappella group Tonic Sol-Fa, said Jamie Ulmer, the managing artistic director of Community Players. The theater is bringing in events and artists from out of town to perform at the theater—as the name implies—for one night only.
Community Players has had special performances in the past, Ulmer said, but based on results of surveys the theater performed as a part of strategic planning last year, they discovered that people were interested in exclusive, smaller shows.
“This is the first year for this series,” Ulmer said. “We're kind of gauging the response to it. If the community responds to it, then we will continue to do these events, which I would love to continue. It also lets us bring some entertainment in that maybe the community wouldn't see otherwise.”
In addition to the Thursday night show, elementary school students from Beatrice will have a chance to see the show and talk with Boesen on Friday, Jan. 12, the 130th anniversary of the blizzard.
The show is a great learning tool for children, Ulmer said, because it works on multiple levels. There’s the opportunity to learn some Nebraska history and learn what life was like for people in the 1800s and there’s some adventure, too, as Hattie tries to ride out the storm.
“I remember learning about it in Nebraska history in elementary school,” Ulmer said. “It's kind of stuck with me, which is also why we're partnering with Beatrice Public Schools. So, on Friday, we're going to bring fourth graders in to see the show and Becky will do a talk-back afterwards with them.”
Tickets for the Thursday night show are $15 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased in person at the Community Players box office between noon and 5:30 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased over the phone by calling 402-228-1801 or online at www.beatricecommunityplayers.com.
This week is a good week for arts and culture in Beatrice, Ulmer said. In addition to “Snowcatcher,” the Beatrice Arts Council is also holding a January Jazz concert at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the BHS Hevelone Center.
“Don't say there's nothing to do in Beatrice,” Ulmer said.
ADAMS, Neb. – A three-year venture to collect history on a small Gage County community is nearly complete for four women.
Beverly Buss, Janie Oltman, Karen Page and Elvera Seeley, all longtime residents of Adams, have spent years collecting stories, photos and anything else they can find related to their town to put into a book.
The group is currently taking orders for “Hometown–Adams” with plans to have the books available this spring.
Oltman said Adams had a newspaper, the Adams Gazette, dating back to 1886, which became the Adams Weekly Globe in 1907 and was published until 1981.
Stories from these old papers can still be found at the local library and were a key source for the book.
Another came around three years ago, when efforts to catalog the history were put into place.
“Probably three years ago, they tore down the old fire hall to build the new one, and there was a safe in there that had a lot of historical information,” Oltman said.
Also in the safe was a 100-year-old flag, now displayed in a case at the Adams community building, that recognized those who served in World War I.
“The stars are for all the men from this area that went to service," Oltman said. "There are two gold ones in the middle for two who didn’t come home.”
Page said there was a large celebration in Adams around 100 years ago to recognize the historic flag, and that the event is just one example of many pieces of Adams’s history featured in the book.
“There was a big celebration of it here in town,” she said. “There were like 2,000 people here to celebrate and it’s now framed in the community building.
“You don’t want that history to get lost. Someone needs to write it and get it out there, because you don’t want to lose it. That’s our biggest concern. You get to our age and you get more interested.”
Many tales came from Adams historian Byrleta Pittamm, while Seely added that some of the best stories about Adams came from people who initially thought their own experiences weren’t that interesting.
The group met regularly to collect stories about Adams, which has more history than some may realize.
“I think as we began to hunt for things we would find things that happened in Adams and that kind of sparked our interest to do more research,” she said. “We would all do research, and with Bev’s prompting and urging, we would help her.”
The book has an entire chapter dedicated to fires in Adams throughout the years. The women said nearly all of the old buildings experienced a fire at some point.
Information about the book can be found on Facebook by searching for “Hometown – Adams, Nebraska.”
The 212-page book costs $30, and anyone interested in buying the book can contact Buss at 402-440-3409 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beatrice 56, Seward 44.
Freeman 60, Friend 18.
Pawnee City 58, Conestoga 49.
Shelby-Rising City 65, Meridian 23.
Southern 49, Wilber-Clatonia 31.
McCool Junction 73, Meridian 57.
Falls City Sacred Heart 55, Diller-Odell 45.
Freeman 57, Pawnee City 27.
Elmwood-Murdock 69, Johnson County Central 43.
Aurora 68, Fairbury 41.
Lewiston 51, Cedar Bluffs 42.
Seward 58, Beatrice 47.
Southern 50, Wilber-Clatonia 16.
Meridian 37, Shelby-Rising City 32.
Friend 43, Freeman 27.
Conestoga 60, Pawnee City 20.
Sterling 51, Humboldt-Table Rock-Steinauer 39.
Meridian 44, McCool Junction 35.
Lewiston 41, Cedar Bluffs 32.
Falls City Sacred Heart 51, Diller-Odell 23.
Freeman 38, Pawnee City 19.
Aurora 40, Fairbury 37.
Deputies arrested a man who crashed the car he was driving during a pursuit through southern Gage County Saturday.
At around 4 p.m. on Saturday, deputies were dispatched to a disturbance at Devon R. Kagy’s residence in Filley.
Gage County Court documents state authorities were informed that Kagy had taken the reporting person's 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier and left southbound toward Liberty.
Deputies spotted the vehicle and clocked it traveling at 91 mph in a 55 mph zone.
As the vehicle passed, the deputy identified Kagy as the driver. The deputy pursued the vehicle for about a mile on South 162nd Road, which then turned east on Sage Road and then south on Wells Street.
Court documents state Kagy lost control of the vehicle and it slid into a ditch. He then fled on foot for about three blocks in Liberty, where he evaded the deputy in a back yard.
He was found hiding in a storage shed a short time later and was placed under arrest for speeding and flight to avoid arrest.
Kagy’s bond was set at $5,000, with a 10 percent deposit on Monday morning. His next hearing set for Jan. 23.